Posted (01/25/2010) -
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-After a successful Daytona test for both teams, Automatic Racing and RSR Motorsports are hoping to parlay fast test laps into fast race laps when they return to Daytona International Speedway this weekend.
The Fresh from Florida 200 on Friday, January 29, will kick off the 2010 Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season. Automatic Racing returns for their ninth season of Continental Challenge competition. Mark Hillestad and Barry Waddell are returning, too, and will once again pilot the No. 99 H&S Tool BMW M3 in the Grand Sport class.
"It's our second year with Automatic Racing and Chris Lerch, our new engineer, is a great addition," said Hillestad. "We're really looking for consistency like we had last season, and we plan to get out there and have fun."
"We have a year of experience now with the car, the series and the tracks, and we expect to benefit from that," added Waddell. "There's a lot of new competition this year, but we had a very successful Daytona test and we really feel we're hitting the ground running this year."
RSR Motorsports, whose Mini Cooper S entries are being prepared by Automatic Racing this season, will have two cars in the Street Tuner class of Continental Challenge. They will once again carry sponsorship from Four Winds International and Cruise America.
Randall Smalley is teaming up with Owen Trinkler this season to campaign the No. 196 RSR Mini. "The test was probably the best one we've ever had at Daytona, so that's encouraging for the rest of the season. It's not just about one race: you have to look at the big picture and where you want to be at the end of the season," Trinkler noted.
"I think we've really got the handling down. The Mini performed really well in the infield during the test," said Smalley. "The Automatic Racing crew has done a great job of preparing the Minis and we've got experienced drivers behind the wheel, so we're pretty confident."
Sarah Cattaneo and VJ Mirzayan have both raced under the RSR banner in the past, but Daytona marks their first appearance as teammates. After a satisfying weekend at the Daytona test-despite being at a track that doesn't typically favor the little Minis-both drivers are optimistic that the No. 197 RSR Mini will perform well in the race.
"Testing went incredibly well. I hadn't been in the Mini in a year, so I got comfortable with it again. Plus, it was a chance for VJ and I to work together. He and I both have big aspirations for Daytona," said Cattaneo, who will be making her Daytona debut.
"We have a great crew and everybody is on the same page: the chemistry is amazing," remarked Mirzayan. "I'm really enjoying working with Sarah and I think we're going to have a great year together, but we'll take things one step at a time, beginning with Daytona. The key thing will be staying in the draft as much as possible."
The Fresh from Florida 200 will kick off the 2010 race season at 1:45 p.m. on Friday, January 29.